Schieffer to Obama Advisor: ‘Why Are You Here? Why Isn’t the White House Chief of Staff Here?’

As NewsBusters reported two weeks ago, CBS’s Bob Schieffer is fed up with the White House’s talking points concerning what happened at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September.

His impatience continued on Sunday's Face the Nation when Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer gave stock answers to questions about the three crises facing the President leading Schieffer to first accuse his guest of taking "exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took" and finally scolding him by asking, "Why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: The point that our Chief of Staff is making is that this is the Republican playbook here which is try, when they don't have a positive agenda, try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings and false allegations. We're not going to let that distract us and the President from actually doing the people's work and fighting for the middle class.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: You know, I don’t want to compare this in any way to Watergate. I do not think this is Watergate by any stretch. But you weren't born then I would guess, but I have to tell you that is exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took. They said, “These are all second-rate things. We don't have time for this. We have to devote our time to the people's business.” You’re taking exactly the same line they did.

After Pfeiffer continued with evasive talking points, Schieffer again scolded:

SCHIEFFER: But Mr. Pfeiffer, and I don't mean to be argumentative here, but the President is in charge of the executive branch of the government. It’s my, I'll just make this as an assertion: when the executive branch does things right, there doesn't seem to be any hesitancy of the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed, the President didn't waste any time getting out there and telling people about it.

But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don't even seem to know what has happened. And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens, and I'm not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed.


Pfeiffer once again stuck with the Administration line leading Schieffer to further push back:

But what I'm saying to you is that was just PR. That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn't know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn't the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, “We don't know yet?” Why didn't the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?

Fabulous question.

It's pretty obvious that one of the senior members of the press corps is getting tired of the way this Administration evades serious issues. Let's hope more jump on this bandwagon.

Nice job, Bob! Bravo!

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.